Richard Nixon and the mystery of the “extraordinarily, unbelievably, stunningly gorgeous” Russian women

Where did all those "extraordinarily, unbelievably, stunningly gorgeous" Russian women come from, asks Anne Applebaum. If you walked into any "well-appointed drawing room, dining room, or restaurant in London" around 1995 there they were, she says. But in the 1970s and 80s, the Soviet Union was not "was not widely known for feminine pulchritude". So what happened?

us-exibition2.jpg

According to Applebaum, it’s all about supply and demand. Before the collapse of communism there was just no market for female beauty:

This doesn’t mean there weren’t any beautiful women, of course, just that they didn’t have the clothes or cosmetics to enhance their looks, and, far more important, they couldn’t use their faces to launch international careers. Instead of gracing London drawing rooms, they stayed in Minsk, Omsk, or Alma Ata. Instead of couture, they wore cheap polyester. They could become assembly-line forewomen, Communist Party bosses, even local femmes fatales, but not Vogue cover girls. They didn’t even dream of becoming Vogue cover girls, since very few had ever seen an edition of Vogue.

And maybe she’s right. But this doesn’t mean that Soviet women weren’t interested in makeup and hairdos. In 1959 the United States opened a new front in the Cold War by staging a spectacular display of American consumerism in the political heart of the Soviet empire. In one pavilion visitors were treated to demonstrations of American make up and hair styling. According to the National Geographic:

Communism’s praise of strong backs and callused hands lost a round when fairgoers saw Western beauty operators in action.

Women pressed in so eagerly for free demonstrations that ropes were put up to protect the pavilion. Crowds grew so enthusiastic that Russian authorities banned further treatments except for American women associated with the fair.

In his article for the magazine Vice President Richard Nixon boasted that the exhibition showed "how nearly we in America have achieved freedom and abundance for all in a classless society — the very goal that the Communists claim as their own special property!"

Maybe George Bush and Tony Blair should have sent Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse to Iraq instead of sending in the miltary?

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Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago

Philly – I knew you’d appreciate it.

The idea that the Americans were fighting communism with hair spray kind of appeals to me.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago

All part of the scene? Well yes, except for the vegetarianism I suppose. But come to think of it I don’t remember seeing Alan or his rottweiler Eva Braun at the anti-war protest … what scene are we talking about here?

Oh of course, how silly of me, we’re both male!

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Philly:

You seem pretty focused on this sexist thing. Can I say out loud that as a hetro male, there is nothing better than slyly gawking at a beautiful woman preferably in a skimpy two-piece bathing suit or a short skirt if clothes have to be worn?

Soviet males didn’t know what they were missing when their gals weren’t glossing themselves up.

There.

What sort of freaks are you?

Cant speak for the rest freaks, but Im a pretty normal freak.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago

JC – I’m curious about your sly gawking technique. Care to elaborate?

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Cool, I’m actually quite in touch with my own sensuality and very capable of

responding straightforwardly to the erotic appeal of a woma

, then.

Full marks for me!

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Cosmetics, gloss, high heels….., leather thigh-pieces…. are artificial, man-made fetishistic objects needed for any sort of sexual arousal</blockquote

You make it sound as though this stuff is bad? Really?

Wigs? I reckon more dudes wear rugs than gals, Philly. You sure you wanna put wigs/rugs in that group. I’ll bet you there are more rugs and hairpiece crap sold to men than wigs to gals.

sexual arousal or ability to penetrate or even touch another woman by men who are so alienated from their own sensuality and so incapable of responding straightforwardly to the erotic appeal of a woman that they must distract and arouse themselves with these surface artifices because the actual skin, breath, eyes, mouth, c..t of a real woman are too terrifying and emasculating for them.

Yea, right, I/we’re terrified….. Running for the hills because of great looking gals. Shivering with fright.

Look, philly, I’m married to the same gal for a long time. She looks just as good all doled up or when she wakes up in the morning and hands me the paper and a well made coffee in bed ( ummm coffee and paper in my dreams). Get a grip as not everything relates to penis envy.

………………….

Don

It’s a sceret like a good magician never tells how the trick is done. hahahahaha

observa
observa
13 years ago

Cosmetics, gloss, high heels.., leather thigh-pieces. are artificial, man-made fetishistic objects needed for any sort of sexual arousal</blockquote

Don’t know about you Philly but I don’t really get any say in the matter. Just a soap, razor, comb, toothbrush and shampoo man myself and even the shampoo came later in life. That’s progress I suppose, except for MsO who is always nicking my comb because it’s always in the same place unlike hers, yet this is the Paris Hilton understudy type that can’t bear to mix brands of shampoo and conditioner. I’ll never work these space travellers out. She’s never cottoned on that I pour the dregs of the last 3 or 4 must have brands into the latest must have. We earthlings do have our stellar moments too.

“Im curious about your sly gawking technique. Care to elaborate?”
Another flat headed married bloke that doesn’t wear reflective sunnies too by the sounds of it.

THR
THR
13 years ago

Cosmetics, gloss, high heels, eyemasks, leather thigh-pieces, wigs, stockings are artificial, man-made fetishistic objects needed for any sort of sexual arousal or ability to penetrate or even touch another woman by men who are so alienated from their own sensuality and so incapable of responding straightforwardly to the erotic appeal of a woman that they must distract and arouse themselves with these surface artifices because the actual skin, breath, eyes, mouth, cunt of a real woman are too terrifying and emasculating for them.

Well, from a strict psychoanalytic point of view, the skin, breath, eyes, et al can be ‘surface artifices’ and fetishised objects too. Desire always needs its props.

Having said that, I’m not sure why the old CCCP needs a Britney or a Paris…

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Having said that, Im not sure why the old CCCP needs a Britney or a Paris

It looks like the other way round. The Russian girls want the old sov like a hole in the head.

Back to the topic:

I think the reason we had the image of Russian women looking like they were manufactured at the Moscow tractor co-operative was because we saw very few images of the old sov during the cold war. The old Sov was really like a fortress. The only images I recall was the old tractor a sov leader would take to the west when meeting the US prez to scare us to death and those May Day parades in Moscow when you had the coated up and fully hatted scary looking politburo dudes standing and saluting the ICBMS passing them on trucks. They always had red stars painted on them, like the Americans had the stars and stripes. I could never figure why they would even bother spending the time or money decorating that crap. It wasn’t as though New Yorkers say would care much or know a giant ICBM had just exploded on top of the city.

Another example of government waste…. painting bombs! How silly is that?

observa
observa
13 years ago

Speaking of unfairly getting sprung at gawking, a much more youthful O was driving down the Bay one summer on an errand with the brother-in-law and very young MasterO in his booster seat and single BinL leering out the window at some buxom lovely lets out- ‘Corrr, great tits!’, upon which toddler O mimics him perfectly to our raucous laughter. That was all the encouragement a toddler needed to make like a broken record, so I had to do the stern ‘that’s enough’ dad thing. Trouble was he didn’t forget, the next time he was out driving with his nan and BinL in tow at exactly the appropriate time, much to nan’s consternation. Boy did I get an earful for teaching her precious grandson inappropriate behaviour, with BinL sitting there like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. You know how it is, says he afterwards, a bloke can’t really deflate a mum’s good opinion of her son. She was bloody lucky she still had one I can tell you.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago
Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Not exactly Tom Ford, Don.

Fyodor
13 years ago

Philly, you’re not jinmaro/Wolfe/etc by any chance, are you?

Peter Wood
Peter Wood
13 years ago

Anne Applebaum’s article is an excellent example of the rubbish that we get when peoples faith in markets become ideological.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Mae West once said that she did not get on as well with lesbians as she did with poofs as “lesbians are not humorous persons.” Similarly, Communists and left-wing types in general are extremely anti-beauty. This is why they all decamped so easily from historical materialism to post-structuralism. Fetid beasts that they are.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

It also explains why lesbians are so over-represented among the Culti/Gender Studies set. Or the Leftist Clitorati as we say in the trade.

THR
THR
13 years ago

A typically measured and reasoned response from JG.

Strange that all those ‘left-wing types’, so ‘anti-beauty’, have played a pretty major role in the arts for the past 150 or so years.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Anne Applebaums article is an excellent example of the rubbish that we get when peoples faith in markets become ideological.

If you have a better solution let’s hear it, peter.

Ken Parish
Admin
Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
13 years ago

There are degrees of sexist nonsense that should IMO be tolerated in the interest of free and open discussion. Some people with otherwise interesting viewpoints and worthwhile contributions just don’t know any better. However, any further examples as repugnant as John Greenfield’s two examples above will be summarily deleted without discussion.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago

That’s fair warning.

The idea that leftism is anti-beauty could spark an interesting argument though. Maybe one way you could test the claim would be to look to see who left wingers choose to represent them. If leftists had a bias against beauty then (all things being equal) you’d expect right wing parties to choose more attractive candidates than left wing parties.

Amy King and Andrew Leigh have a paper on politicians and attractiveness. They found that:

On average, our raters thought that female candidates were more attractive than male candidates, that challengers were more attractive than incumbents, and that Liberal Party candidates were more attractive than Labor Party or National Party candidates.

I’m not sure where this gets us.

THR
THR
13 years ago

Sorry, but the ALP at least has Ellis.

Who have the Tories got? Mirabella? Either one of the (quite frightening) Bishops?

And they also had Howard in charge for many years. Whilst Rudd may be beige and boring, Howard makes garden gnomes look attractive in comparison.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago

THR – Who do you think is the most attractive man in Australian politics?

THR
THR
13 years ago

Good question. For male Australian politicians, the term ‘uglies’ does not merely describe a faction, but a whole aesthetic.

In fairness to the Tories, that Anderson fellow who led the Nats a while back could be considered good-looking, in a US day-time soap kind of way.

As for the current crop, I can’t think of any obvious picks. You really only have ‘least bad’ choices with this lot.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Of course, if you are beautiful, sensitive, artistic, smart AND successful the world is your oyster.

You got5ta be artistic and sensitive to score good looking women? Ummmmmm.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Just ask Marilyn Monroe or Heath Ledger

They both, ODed on sleeping pills, Philly.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

What a line!

Laura
13 years ago

The first photo at that GDR fashion link is exceptionally awesome.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago

Laura – Here’s another post from the same blog.

I love the part where she wonders whether her new shoes would be appropriate at work.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Don says:

Im not sure where this gets us.

Hollywood isn’t excatly short on the looks department, Don. You could have a Hollywood right wngers party in a dunny.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

THR

Who have the Tories got? Mirabella? Either one of the (quite frightening) Bishops?

Julie Bishop is not a bad looker for a pol. Nice backside in tight skirts she deliberatly wears. She’s isn’t frightening at all for the older discerning male.

THR
THR
13 years ago

And if we need to pinpoint the nastiness, we can do so precisely at the above post. (shudders)

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

THR says:

And if we need to pinpoint the nastiness, we can do so precisely at the above post. (shudders)

Referring to:

Julie Bishop is not a bad looker for a pol. Nice backside in tight skirts she deliberatly wears. Shes isnt frightening at all for the older discerning male.

That was in repsonse to THR saying:

Sorry, but the ALP at least has Ellis.

Who have the Tories got? Mirabella? Either one of the (quite frightening) Bishops?

And they also had Howard in charge for many years. Whilst Rudd may be beige and boring, Howard makes garden gnomes look attractive in comparison.

Leaving me totally speechless and open mouthed.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

I’m not jacques Chester, Philly. He’s a pleasant, nice guy.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

All this discoursing on the comeliness of Australian elected representatives has blown the metadiscourse off course. Towit, how do we explain the REAL 20th century revolution from what I like to call “tractor thrower chic” of Communist Russia to the return of tumescent tennis spectating facilitated by Anna Kournikova and her heirs?

What were the Commies doing with these chicks’ mummies during the Cold War? They must have been hiding them in a bread queue or punishing them on the tractor production lines. Perhaps they thought they would win the Cold War if they threw enough mustachioed tractor throwers at us?

The takeaway is that Hillary should have had some work done while she had the opportunity. Still, running a Lady Bic over her top lip once a day would help her immensely.

amphibious
amphibious
13 years ago

D/Arthur – how about that permed, blow dried, airbrushed simulacrum Stephen Smith?

Fyodor
13 years ago

Philly, apologies for repeating the question, but you neglected to answer it last time, so I’ll try it again:

“Philly, youre not jinmaro/Wolfe/etc by any chance, are you?”

Liam
Liam
13 years ago

Fair is fair, Don and Laura. The Free World did do its utmost to close the fashion-crime gap. Why, I read that in 1983 the Americans were working on a pair of intercontinental cream loafers that could accurately target any given Soviet knit tie; thankfully the whole crazy era wound up limited by treaty.

Fyodor, you know how it is with sockpuppets. By their works you shall know them.

Brolga
13 years ago

Like Pavlov’s Dog, John Greenfield’s right on cue bagging in this micro-variation, the upper lip, no less ,of Hillary Clinton: America’s Misogyny Magnet, and perfect male-ego punching bag.

Yawn.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Brolga

Sorry, love, but when I hear the word “misogyny” I release the safety catch on my Browning. Please.

Fyodor
13 years ago

That you’re “trigger happy” surprises no one, Mr G. It’s getting your hand off it that’s your problem.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

It’s my Browning and my soap, so I can wash it as fast and as often as I like. Since you are so interested perhaps you would like to polish my Smith and Wesson?

Fyodor
13 years ago

Why? I’ve already implied that excessive polishing is precisely YOUR problem. The fact that you choose to do it in public is another.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago

How odd.

Now I’ve got this mental image of John Greenfield sitting alone at his computer like a late career Elvis waving a handgun around.

Is everything all right John?

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Don

Don’t worry about me. I am the happiest of campers, and the only thing I am waving around is my Chardonnay! ;)

Philly

What’s the matter love? Why so tetchy about sheilahs, gender, and stuff? I am not sure what you are criticising me for. Is it for criticising women, which is impermissible? I can assure you (as will other bloggers) that I engage with both men and women without fear or favour.

But I have not criticised “women” anywhere.

One problem I do find with a particular type of feminist, particularly those of a certain age is that they not only conflate women and feminists – and thus presume they speak for women when in fact they are only speaking as an example of their particular feminist hivemind – but they also demand free speech for themselves, yet freedom FROM speech of others.

My dear, I shall continue not to acceed to either demand, and whenever I encounter a dopey bint, will continue to inform her of her dopiness.

It is my way of giving back you see. Consider it a form of community service.

Anyways, you have a lovely day, you hear!? And before you burn that last bra, I should tell you that from today the English chain store. Asda, will be charging the same price for all bra sizes! While this is great news for equity feminists like myself, perhaps you gender feminazis might have to bunker down in the hivemind, say 10 Judith Butlers, and deconstruct the move?

http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSN2845474820080128?feedType=RSS&feedName=oddlyEnoughNews

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Philly

Funny. I get these lines from, er, er other women. ;)

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Oh, and please re-read comments re conflating “feminzais” and “women/single woman/gilr.” ;)

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

I think youll find that should be lots not lots, big boy.

Law firms offer 15 bucks an hour for proof readers, Philly. Call them. But yes, i’m a shocker as I never proof read.

Did I ever tell you one of the biggest sexual and intellectual turn-offs is illiterate dudes?

Did I tell I wouldn’t be interested?

Ok. Name all the idiotic women posting here on Club Troppo and well compare and contrast.

Ummm… you for a start…. (Just kidding). Just focus on the “dudes”. You obviously think there are loads, right?

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Philly

Nah. I’ve nailed you, dollface. Off you pop to Asda now.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago

Don Arthur: the Elvis comparison is way off beam.

Philly, we could rise to the bait and talk about Nazis but why bother?

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

What a predictable response – on all three counts.

What a predictable comment on all counts.

And wimping out, too from naming idiotic bints names.

Youre trying to do a McCarthy on me now , Philly? I have to name names, or Im of to Leavenworth?

You know about bullies, jc, oh maybe youre in denial and you dont seem too bright.

To be honest, you dont seem to be too bright either as all Ive seen is regurgitated 80s like sophomoric swill. And actually I think you come off as the bully rather than me.

but in the end theyre as you have shown, always gutless cowards.

Why plural. Theres only one of me.